Dispatch from the Parma Antique Fair

I have always wanted to attend the Parma Antique Fair because I have bought many things from the fair thanks to my pickers in Italy. Since we have been working on La Fortezza, I have woken up on Saturdays to tons of pics and choices sent to me by my designer Forrest and his partner Roberto from the Parma Fair. They both have an amazing eye. I am blessed to have them in my world, and the objects they have found for me over the past 2 years are astounding. This year I wanted to go along and see what all the fuss was about.

Well…I can tell you that the fair was dizzying. I have been to lots of fairs and antiques shows, like Round Top in Texas and Isle sur la Sorgue, but nothing compares to the beauty and the perfection in selection at Parma; it is like nothing I have every seen. There is row after row of Italian treasures. I was gob-smacked. No words could describe the sheer quantity and quality on sale. Mind you, we attended at the end of the show, but there were still gobs of beautiful objects everywhere. We waited until the end of show on purpose, too. Since I was shopping for basics, I felt that I could miss the crowds and leisurely take advantage of end of show pricing.

With Forrest by my side, we flew up and down the aisles with laser beam focus. I picked up a large dining room table and classic Italian wood chairs for the commercial kitchen as we plan to eat some meals in the commercial kitchen, mostly in the fall and winter if it’s too cold outside. The table will also serve as a beautiful surface for cooking, foodstyling lessons, and photography. The student lounge, located next to the commercial kitchen, now has some wonderful leather club chairs – all worn in, soft and comfy. The club chairs were in the most elegant booth manned by a most elegant vendor. She gave us a great deal, and we bought the last matching set. The guest quarters has a really cool rustic table for the entry, plus I found some wonderful wire chairs and a table for folks to hang out on while enjoying an espresso of a glass of wine with a few nibbles in the guest kitchenette.

We loaded all our finds into the old Range Rover. It’s incredibly roomy, but even I was surprised how much fit into the back, and we headed back home just in time for Aperitivo. It was a super successful trip – efficient and inspiring, just the way I like it. If you’re thinking about attending the Parma Antiques Fair, I highly recommend it. I would definitely schedule at least 2 to 3 days since there is so much to see. Plus Parma is such a wonderful place to visit.

Make sure you check in with the blog over the next months as we will be outfitting the rooms with all of our finds starting in May. I can’t wait to share the end results with you as we get ready for our summer of workshops and retreats.

xx Annette

 

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Father’s Day Gift Guide

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. Today, I’m bringing you an epic Father’s Day gift guide. One of the things that I hear time and time again is how difficult it is to buy gifts for men. Since Father’s Day is right around the corner, I thought I’d help you guys out. Here are just a few fabulous gifts for the dad, dad-to-be, or granddad in your life:

Today, I'm bringing you an epic Father's Day gift guide. Here are just a few fabulous gifts for the dad, dad-to-be, or granddad in your life.

1. The August Diet Print: Old Try is one of my favorite under-the-radar places to find unique prints. This one, an homage to The Masters at August National, is sure to keep a smile on Dad’s face.

2. Sid Mashburn Low Top Slip-Ons: Slip-ons are essentially synonymous with summer. These from Sid Mashburn are a great price point and are so stylish.

3. Men and Style: Speaking of style, if you’re gifting something to the stylish man in your life, look no further than Men and Style which covers history of men’s style through essays and interviews.

4. Wood Coasters: Give your dapper dad these wooden plaid coasters for his man cave. They come as a set of 12 which means there’s enough to go around at the poker table.

5. Crosley Turn Table: If your dad has a collection of old records collecting dust somewhere, this turn-table is exactly what he needs. Give those dusty records their groove back!

xo, Nicole

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend here again bringing you your last minute Mother’s Day gift guide for any last minute shopping. Just in case you’ve forgotten, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, but with quick shipping, there’s still time to get her something special.

When it comes to shopping this week, think about places you can either pick-up a gift (I love the “pick-up in store” options so many places have now), or have shipped to you (or mom!) quickly. And of course, you can’t go wrong with flowers!

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1. This/That & Bits/Bobs pouches: Anthropologie always has such a great selection of little gifts and things. These pouches would be perfect for traveling abroad to collect loose change and foreign currency.

2. Photography Workshop: What mom wouldn’t love a trip of a lifetime to learn how to use her camera and explore Italy at the same time? Go in with your siblings (and maybe your dad, too) to gift mom one of Annette’s style+photo workshops!

3. Copper Tea Kettle: There’s something about sipping hot tea in the spring and summer that’s so refreshing. This copper tea kettle is gorgeous and can be kept out on the stove for extra kitchen pizzazz.

4. Pool House Candle: Candles are fun to gift because they’re something people rarely buy for themselves. These Lafco candles are large, so they make a great piece for a coffee table, but their size also means they burn for 90 hours!

5. Polish Set + Mani/Pedi Date: Give mom a mani/pedi with you along with a stunning collection of summer polishes to keep her toes beach ready all season.

6. Straw hat: A wide brim straw hat is perfect for the mom who loves to be outdoors. She can use it in her garden, at the beach, or anywhere else she’d like!

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms and moms-to-be out there!

xo, Nicole

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My Holiday Gift Guide

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I love this time of year. I am a gift giver, and there are some really great ones on the market this year.

I wanted to share some of the things I will be gifting this year in my annual gift guide.

There’s something for everyone. Great gifts for your man, your kids’ teachers, your BFF, and of course, a little something for you.

1. For You! Style Photo Workshop in TuscanyBe sure to add one of my Style Photo Workshops in Tuscany to your wish list. You’ll get to visit the Fortress, drink wine in our vineyard, and learn from the best of the best. Treat yourself!

2. For Him! Men and Style Book by David Coggins: From Amazon: Men and Style reaches beyond standard “what to wear” advice: It is equal parts style guide and intriguing conversation about the masculine identity within the world of fashion. David Coggins explores the history of men’s style and learns from some of the most notable tastemakers in the industry and beyond. Its essays and interviews discuss the lessons men learned from their fathers, the mistakes they made as young men, and how they emerged to become better men. Some of the most dapper men in the world discuss bad mustaches, misguided cologne choices, and unfortunate prom tuxedos. All the men here have arrived at a place in the world and have a keen understanding about how they fit in it. Men and Style celebrates singular men who’ve lived well and can tell us about how they earned their worldview. They’re smart enough to absorb the wisdom that’s hidden in the world, and even smarter to wear that wisdom lightly.

3. For your BFF! Williams Sonoma Copper Corkscrew: Never underestimate the power of a well-made corkscrew in a beautiful finish. This one would be great for your BFF or make a wonderful hostess gift throughout the season. 

4. For the Teacher! Sling Shot Coffee Caramels: Give the teachers something sweet and something delicious. These are reasonably priced if your student has several teachers, or you can add them to a big basket of other goodies.

5. For your Hairdresser! Scandinavisk Candle: Girls, let’s be honest: our hairdressers are our lifelines; we couldn’t do life without them. When you’re making your list this year, pick up a candle or two for your beauty team.

6. For the Jet-Setter! Herbivore Rose Mist: Rose water is a fantastic pick-me-up, especially after a long day of travel. A little spritz of this will leave her feeling refreshed.

7. For the Business Owner! In the Company of Women: From Amazon: Across the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries. Chock-full of practical, inspirational advice for those looking to forge their own paths, these interviews detail the keys to success (for example, going with your gut; maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships), highlight the importance of everyday rituals (meditating; creating a daily to-do list), and dispense advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and makers (stay true to what you believe in; have patience). The book is rounded out with hundreds of lush, original photographs of the women in their work spaces.

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Flea Marketing in the Lunigiana region of Italy

Flea Market

As many of you already know, we are renovating a medieval fortress in Lunigiana. It’s a region so close to Liguria, but considered Toscana. Close to Carrara, (where the marble is from) and only a few hours north of Florence, 1 hour from Parma; it’s sort of the perfect location. The best part is that it’s not a major tourist destination which makes it authentic and uncrowded. The very best part is that the flea markets and antique vendors have tons of amazing goods not yet picked through like major shopping destinations. You can still find unique items at great prices. Of course, NO English is spoken, you can only bargin in Italian which makes it all that much more fun, and of course lively.

The last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with the start of our BIG fortress renovation, plus purchasing the furnishings and finishes. We took a little break from the nuts and bolts of the reno and headed out for a wonderful roadside adventure: flea marketing along the coastline of Italy.

Only 45 minutes away on side roads (1/2 hour via the autostrada), we wound up at a treasure trove of goodies. I hunt with my BFF Forrest (he’s also part of Style Photo Workshops Team) and his boyfriend who’s the best picker I have ever encountered, and he happens to be an Italian prince, so his taste is off the chain. As we entered the joint, 14 chairs leaned against the wall – metal folding chairs that – I snatched them up for the Workshop Studio.

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Then Forrest headed one way, I headed another, and the Prince headed to the garden. Quickly I heard Roberto call out, “Annette come into the garden” (in Italian of course). In the darkest corner of the garden, I found him pointing at an iron bed. Headboard and footboard with delicate swirls. “The bed is complete,” he said. “All the nuts and bolts and frame are here.” “Fantastic,” I said. “It’s the perfect size for the guest bedroom.”

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We found it priced well, too. All we need to do is build a frame for the mattress. Old beds do not have the stability for a mattress since the mattress that most likely fit this bed was made of straw like a giant pillow. Good thing I have a great iron artisan at my disposal here in Italy.

As I get to know my new neighborhood in Italy, these flea markets are the perfect place to take our workshop attendees next summer. I will be continuing my tour of flea markets over the next months with my impeccable tour guides. Indeed I am a lucky girl.

I invite you to follow along on my Italian Renovation adventure on instagram.

Happy hunting xx

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